Lilies, veterinarians reminded us last week, are actually poisonous for your cat.
"Ingesting any part of a lily plant can cause serious illness or even lead to death,” said Dr. Jerry Klein, supervising veterinarian at Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center. “Because many lilies are so highly poisonous to cats, prompt veterinary care is required."
Who knew? Many pet owners were alarmed. Commenting on our story a reader named “Suz” wrote “I am so glad I found this article - pet lovers must read.”
That got us thinking. What other kinds of things around the house could unknowningly be a threat to your dog or cat? Quite a lot, it turns out.
Dr. Kristy Conn, a veterinarian and member of the National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps, has written about other backyard plants that could pose problems for dogs and cats.
Other dangerous plants
For example, Narcissus and hyacinth bulbs, oleander, rhododendrons, cyclamen, amaryllis, yew and chrysanthemum can be toxic for dogs if chewed on or ingested.
Pesticide and insecticide can also be problematic, even if the poison is placed in areas where dogs and cats can't get to it. The problem occurs when a rodent or insect ingests the poison, then becomes a meal for your pet before the poison kills it.
Some commercial fertilizer can also be a threat to your dog because many times it seems to the dog like food. These products can expose your pet to nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, as well as insecticides and herbicides.
It's a good idea to keep your dog away from newly fertilized garden plots and anywhere you store bags of fertilizer.
Another potential garden threat is cocoa mulch. It contains ingredients that can be deadly to pets if ingested. The mulch, sold in garden supply stores, has a chocolate scent that is appetizing to some animals.
People food is a no-no
For a number of reasons it's never a good idea to feed your pet table scraps. One reason is the fact that some foods that are healthy for humans are lethal for dogs and cats, or at the very least can make them ill.
It's well-known that chocolate can be lethal for dogs, but is also harmful to cats. A lot of other food items can be pet killers too.
The City of Hollister, Calif.'s animal poison control center has posted a list of “101 things you didn't know could harm your pet.” On the list are common foods like grapes, raisins, garlic, raw yeast dough, macadamia nuts, salt and coffee.
You often see pictures of cats playing with a ball of yarn, but you shouldn't. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) warns that a ball of yarn can actually pose a threat to your feline friend.
It isn't poisonous but is easy to swallow. Once inside the cat it can cause intestinal blockage and strangulation. The same holds true for rubber bands and dental floss.
HSUS recommends that pet owners use all household products with caution. In fact, many of the same precautions parents of young children take to ensure their children's safety can, and should be adopted by pet owners.